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Syndication: The Topeka Capital-Journal

A “Way Too Early” Preview of Kansas Football

Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Kansas football wrapped up their spring practice schedule this past Saturday, April 9 with a spring preview event at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. In differing from a traditional spring game, the preview started with a live practice session and concluded with a scrimmage of the blue and white team; however, no score was kept. The scrimmage showcased different offensive and defensive units.

At halftime of the scrimmage, the men’s basketball team was honored for winning the national championship. However, a familiar face from the Jayhawk basketball squad made an appearance on the football field before the celebration. Chris Teahan dawning a red football jersey with full pads threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Lawrence Arnold. In the post preview interview, Head Coach Lance Leipold joking stated that he had meet with compliance and see if Teahan had any eligibility to help the football team.

In honor of spring practice ending in Lawrence I wanted to provide what might seems to be a “way too early” preview of Kansas football. I for one am personally excited of what could come in the Leipold era. I look forward to chatting and previewing the football season all summer on this site. Without further ado here is my first look at the 2022 schedule and roster predictions.

2022 Schedule

Game One: September 2nd vs. Tennessee Tech

Like years past, the Jayhawk season will open with a Friday night matchup against an FCS opponent. The Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles will come to Lawrence, KS hoping to knock off the 2-10 Jayhawks from a year ago. The Golden Eagles had their problems in last year’s season finishing 3-8 in 2021 with only one win in the Ohio Valley Conference. I can confidently project the Jayhawks will open the season victorious over Tennessee Tech.

Game Two: September 10th at West Virginia

Kansas will open Big XII play in Morgantown, WV this year. In 2021, the Jayhawks finished their season against the Mountaineers at home losing 28-34. The big news coming out of Morgantown is that JT Daniels will be transferring to West Virginia after having stints at both Georgia and USC. There is no doubt that Daniels will give a boost to West Virginia’s offense. This game will set the tone for the 2022 conference schedule, and I believe it will be a closely contested battle.

Game Three: September 17th at Houston

The Jayhawks road trip will continue to Houston, TX to take on the Cougars from the American Athletic Conference and what will be a preview to a future conference opponent. The Cougars finished 12-2 last season including an undefeated record in conference play. In addition, they beat Auburn in the Ticketsmarter Birmingham Bowl 17-13. This will be the toughest non-conference opponent for KU this coming season.

Game Four: September 24th vs. Duke

The two-game series with the Blue Devils started last season in Durham, NC with a 52-33 routing of the Jayhawks. The David Cutcliffe era is over at Duke after a 3-9 finish last season with all three wins coming in September. The Blue Devils will wrap up their spring practice this Saturday. I look for the Jayhawks to be more competitive against the Blue Devils this season and even pull out a win.

Game Five: October 1st vs. Iowa State

Kansas will host the Cyclones of Iowa State for their Big XII home opener. Last season the 7-6 Cyclones routed KU 59-7 in Ames, IA. Brock Purdy will be back under center for Iowa State and racked up 3,188 passing yards last season. The Cyclones have back-to-back dates this season with the conference opponents from Kansas. I feel the Jayhawks can compete with the Cyclones and it will be a closer game then years past, but ultimately, I feel it will be an Iowa State win.

Game Six: October 8th vs. TCU

This is where I believe the Jayhawks can pick up one of maybe three Big XII victories this coming season. The Sonny Dykes era of Horned Frogs football has begun. TCU is still looking for a few last minutes pieces on the defensive side of the ball. Last season, the Horned Frogs narrowly beat the Jayhawks 31-28 in Forth Worth, TX.

Game Seven: October 15th at Oklahoma

Last season Jayhawk faithful watched our team take a 10-0 lead into the locker room at halftime over the then ranked #3 Sooners. Entering the fourth quarter, the Sooners maintained a three-point lead 17-14 over KU. Unfortunately, we all know the ending to this story as the Jayhawks couldn’t hang on and were defeated 35-23. Sooner Nation has entered the Brent Venables era and could not be happier as the SEC looms just a few seasons away. This will begin a four-game stretch for Kansas as they take on the top tier of conference opponents. As much as I would love to see a Jayhawk upset, I do not see that happening, but I would enjoy seeing Sooner Nation get a nice scare again this season.

Game Eight: October 22nd at Baylor

The stretch will continue in Waco, TX where the Jayhawks will take on the defending Big XII champions. The Bears defeated Kansas 45-7 last season in Lawrence. Baylor finished their season 12-2 overall and defeated Ole Miss in the Allstate Sugar Bowl 21-7. I hope to see the Jayhawks a bit more competitive against the Bears, but ultimately it will result in a Baylor victory.

Game Nine: November 5th vs. Oklahoma State

The Big XII runner ups defeated the Jayhawks last season 55-3 in Stillwater, OK. Quarterback Spencer Sanders is still in Stillwater and will suit up for his fifth season with the Cowboys. Oklahoma State finished 12-2 last season and won the Fiesta Bowl over Notre Dame 37-35. With Sanders still behind center I look for Oklahoma State to pull away with a victory. As I have said before it would be nice to see some more competitiveness from the Jayhawks.

Game Ten: November 12th at Texas Tech

The Red Raiders had an up and down season in 2021 with a coaching change in the middle of the season, but defeated Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl 34-7. Texas Tech defeated the Jayhawks in Lawrence with a score of 41-14. The Red Raiders will host their spring game on April 23rd. It will serve as the first look at Joey McGuire’s squad for this upcoming season. More of the same here as we look for the Jayhawks to be more competitive, but what most likely will be a Red Raider win.

Game Eleven: November 19th vs. Texas

It finally happened in 2021… the Jayhawks defeated the Texas Longhorns after previous seasons where Kansas held a lead late in the game. What a crazy win it was for Kansas winning 57-56 in overtime off a sporadic throw by Jalon Daniels outside the pocket to convert the two-point conversion. I think it is safe to say that many Longhorn fans were not pleased with the first season under Steve Sarkisian and maybe dreading that transition to the SEC. With the Longhorns looking for revenge after the loss in Austin, TX I predict the Jayhawks continue the winning streak over Texas at home.

Game Twelve: November 26th at Kansas State

I find it a bit poetic to end the season with the Sunflower Showdown in Manhattan, KS. Last season, the Wildcats pulled away with a 35-10 victory over the Jayhawks. K-State did finish 8-5 last season and won the Texas Bowl against LSU. Nebraska transfer Adrian Martinez is set to take over under center for the Wildcats. This is the game where I look for the Jayhawks to potentially pick up their third conference victory of the season. While I don’t overlook the Wildcats, I have no doubt that the Jayhawks will be riding high after knocking off Texas for the second straight time. If that prediction holds to be true it will factor in this matchup.

2022 Roster Projections

While the final depth chart and roster is still several months away, I put together a few projections after reviewing the spring roster and from last seasons stats.

Quarterbacks

Junior Jalen Daniels is the projected starter coming out of spring practice as he led the first team’s offensive unit during Saturday’s scrimmage. Last season, he played in six games with three starts including the win over Texas. In his first season in Lawrence, he played in seven games with six starts. Daniels will have to compete with redshirt senior Jason Bean who played in 11 games last season with nine starts. Bean was a transfer from North Texas and lead the second team’s offensive unit on Saturday. True freshman Jack Jackson led the third team’s offensive unit on Saturday and received some reps throughout the spring.

Running Backs

The Jayhawks have a very diverse group of backs for the upcoming season. True sophomore Devin Neal is back after a breakthrough year last season rushing for 707 yards and averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Redshirt junior Torry Locklin had 117 yards receiving on 36 attempts playing in nine games last season. Newcomers Ky Thomas (Minnesota transfer), Sevion Morrison (Nebraska transfer), and redshirt freshman DeAndre Thomas Jr all look to make an impact this season.

Wide Receivers

Four wide outs stand out to me as the focus for this upcoming season. First is junior Luke Grimm who played 10 games and started six last season. Grimm had 349 receiving yards and averaged 15.9 yards a catch. Junior Steven McBride played in all 12 games with 88 yards off 15 catches. With a young depth chart behind these four… look for McBride to pull in more opportunities this season. Redshirt sophomore Lawrence Arnold started nine games last season with 316 receiving yards and averaged 11.7 yards a catch. Last, but certainly not least is redshirt junior Trevor Wilson who led these four with 364 receiving yards with 13.5 yards a catch.

Tight Ends

Senior Mason Fairchild looks to be the front runner at tight end for the upcoming season. In his nine starts last season, Fairchild had 128 yards on 13 receptions and averaged 9.8 yards per catch. Look for redshirt sophomore, Trevor Kardell to compete for playing time as he brought in 86 yards off 5 catches last season.

Defensive Unit

Several top defensive performers from last year are primed and ready to improve the Jayhawks defensive unit. Senior linebacker Gavin Potter started in 11 games and had five tackles for loss, one sack, and one interception. Last season, Potter also scored a touchdown for the Jayhawks. My next pick to look out for on defense is senior Kenny Logan Jr. who at safety started eleven games and had four tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and one interception. Junior Taiwan Berryhill played in all 12 games last season as a linebacker and had 14 solo tackles and 17 assists. Another linebacker worth mentioning is senior Rich Miller who had five tackles for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble. Finally, I wanted to mention Central Florida transfer Eriq Gilyard who in 38 games totaled 199 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, two interceptions and one sack.

I hope you have enjoyed this “way too early” preview of Kansas football. In the coming months, I am excited to stay up to date on everything Jayhawk football as we prepare for the coming season. I am interested to hear your thoughts on the upcoming Jayhawk football season in the comment section below.

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